More Low-Income Households Online

Monday, August 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Slowly, the digital divide is narrowing.

Fifty percent more low-income households have logged onto the Internet, compared to a year ago, according to a study by Media Metrix, Inc., a market research firm in New York.

In June, the number of new Internet surfers in households earning less than $25,000 a year jumped to 7.5 million, up from 5 million the same period last year. The increase makes low-income households the fastest growing segment in the online population, the study reported.

``A recent combination of declines in computer prices and increased Web access in academic and business environments has made the Web more readily available to people, regardless of their household income,'' Media Metrix analyst Anne Rickert said.

But while the lowest-income group outpaced others in growth, it still represented the smallest share of the Web surfing population in June — less than 10 percent.

Households with $40,000 to $60,000 annual incomes made up the biggest group, representing nearly 28 percent of Internet surfers in June.

The study also indicated that the affluent, who were initiated onto the Internet earlier, are spending less time surfing than the low-income folks who are still exploring the Web.

Those in the lowest income group spent an average of 13 hours on the Web in June, nearly three hours longer the average time spent by the entire online population. By comparison, those in the highest income group of $100,000-a-year, averaged only 9.5 hours.

Household income also appears to influence Internet preferences, the study reported. Lower-income groups created more traffic on career and auction sites, while higher-income audiences flocked to leisure, auto, sports and travel sites.


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